Saturday, volunteers manned tables at Gibsons Recycling Depot (GRD), offering bargain-priced house and garden plants, knickknacks, and big plywood bears. GRD’s Co-Director, Barb Hetherington, explained that because their business focuses on minimizing waste, they are particularly aware of the impacts of human waste on wildlife. “Waste is the enemy of bears in particular. Really, we have to recognize we are responsible for every item we bring into our home and that the impact of these things will have on the wildlife.” As an ongoing fundraiser, GRC offers large blank plywood bear silhouettes for a $20 donation to Wildlife Rehab. The purchaser paints or decorates the bear and returns it to be auctioned off, with those funds also benefitting the Rehab.
Kim Drescher, the Bear Aware Community Coordinator, boasted a table of “bear-a-phernalia” – toy bears, ornamental bears, bear photos and books, and of course Bear Aware information and bumper stickers with proceeds from sales benefitting the Rehab. The event provided a great opportunity for outreach, she found. “Residents tend to become complacent about bears,” she explained. “To live in harmony with them, we need to modify our behaviour – how we dispose of waste, for example. Bears love to get into compost. They don’t eat it – they just root around in it because it smells so darned good.” Properly aerating compost reduces its smell and its attraction to wildlife. Drescher recommends the SCRD’s new brochure, Five Ways to Compost in Bear Country for more information. Drescher is recruiting volunteers to help her boost community awareness on living in bear country. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 604-885-6800, extension 6476.
Sunday afternoon, Party Ponies and Farm Ventures picked up the fundraising baton. Hosting an Open Farm, they guided groups of families around the pens and stables while volunteers offered cold lemonade and baked treats in the shade of a big tent. Toddlers petted pygmy goats and fed hay to the llama, gazed wide-eyed at the Andalusians standing calmly in their stalls, and squealed with delight as Mrs. Gobbles, the female turkey, followed the group hoping for some attention (and treats). Parents and grandparents were equally charmed by the animals and the peaceful setting. The three-hour event drew hundreds of residents and visitors.
Both fundraisers raised over $1600 for the Rehab. Irene Davy, GWRC co-founder with husband Clint Davy, noted that these funds are particularly welcome and will be used for food for the orphaned and injured birds and wildlife in their care and to continue their program of public education.
“This is the season to be aware of the wildlife around us,” says Irene. “Deer and bears and coyotes are all out looking for food. Birds are nesting, so cutting trees or trimming hedges, which are nesting sites, should be left until late summer. And if you find an uninjured nestling on the ground, or a fawn or seal pup that seems to be abandoned, please phone the Centre – don’t take the animal or bird away from where it was found. Often the parent is nearby, but won’t approach if people are near its baby.”
To learn more about GWRC programs and Sunshine Coast wildlife or request a copy of the annual newsletter, visit the website at www.gibsonswildliferehabcentre.org
Article and photos by Heather Jeal